Once, I worked at a gym for eleven days.
I was twenty-three years old, having just moved to Pittsburgh from DC after quitting the first job I ever had. I didn’t have a source of income, an apartment, or a plan. I lived with my grandparents, and since the only real expense I’d incur for the foreseeable future was a gym membership, figured I might as well work there.
I hated it, in case that was a question. But what’s interesting is why I hated it. It wasn’t because I worked sales (which I quit all of two weeks prior in DC). It wasn’t the minimum wage. It wasn’t even the dress code, although it felt ridiculous walking between aisles of treadmills wearing dress pants and heels.
I hated it because I stopped working out. Completely. At that point in my life, my workout was my number one priority and the absolute highlight of my day, yet working in a place filled with squat racks, dumbbells, and a lap pool made it come to a halt.
The second my shift ended, I just wanted out. I didn’t want to stick around for my own workout, tacking a ninth hour onto the place I rapidly began to despise. I might leave to run around the lake on my own, or I’d skip altogether. I never took advantage of the pool (my favorite form of active recovery), the state-of-the-art equipment, or a single fitness class. My free membership—my entire reason for snagging the gig in the first place—went unused, until, for the second time in less than a month, I threw up my hands and said, “I quit.”
Here’s what no one tells you about working on something you love: It’s still work.
And even if you have the best job in the world—which I do—it’s still a job. And a job, by nature, is just something you’re going to hate once in awhile.
You are welcome to throw rocks at me for saying that. Or you can tell me to express gratitude or whatever the fuck your five-minute journal you bought from Papyrus tells you to do, but I’m being honest. The things we love and are exposed to most, like our life partners, bosses, parents, and best friends, will inevitably and periodically make us want to bash our foreheads into drywall.
And so will having a job that you’re supposed to love.
Never once, in my entire life, did I want work and life to be separate.
When I was in junior high, a teacher had each person in my class stand up and recite two things: A favorite hobby, and what we wanted to be when we grew up. My friend Annie wanted to be an astronaut; I wanted to be an interior designer. After twenty-six kids stood then sat back down, the teacher waged a guess that the only person who followed through on their career aspirations would be me. I named drawing as my hobby and therefore an artistic career made sense (or at least more sense than Annie trying to connect basketball and outer space).
That teacher was sorta right and sorta wrong. My hobbies changed over the past two decades, but I do, without question, make a living off them.
Writing is, quite arguably, my favorite pastime. It’s also how I keep myself alive.
I write anywhere from seven to nine blog posts per week—none of which are mine—and usually two-ish websites per month.
It’s a fuck ton of volume. And as my business grew over the past three years, the amount of writing I do for myself all but collapsed. Because just as I wanted to sprint out of that gym when I was twenty-three, when my articles are done for the day I just want to lie down on the couch. Or shut my Mac. Or do anything BUT string another two sentences together.
I feel dirty saying that. I think it’s something that a lot of us struggle with—us being creatives, people who work in fitness, photographers, coffee shop owners, people who work in nonprofits, you name it. If you’re an accountant who hates their life, it’s like—well no shit. You chose staring at Excel for ten hours a day as a career path.
But I chose something I love. And just like you feel like a total ass when you fight with your partner or bestie, you feel like a dick admitting you’re sick of a job that’s supposed to bring you joy.
But whether a person, hobby, or career path, you WILL get sick of things you’re supposed to love
I feel like the first step is just admitting that. And being ok with the fact that you’re burnt out, feeling uninspired, or just so fucking tired you can barely stand it. And the second step is trying to remember why or when you fell in love with “your thing” in the first place.
I fell in love with writing when I carved out an hour or so each morning to type before sprinting off to a job that I—shocker—hated. And so writing for no apparent reason, not because it pays my rent or will land my next client, is probably where I should start.